The British author Simon Van Booy wrote ‘Save as many as you ruin’ in 2007. The short story is about Gerard, approximately in his 40’s. He has a daughter Lucy, a job and lives in New York City. His profession is not given, but I assume his job takes a great deal of time since he has a nanny for his daughter. Gerard is handsome and likes to sleep with women: ‘He has slept with many women. Most knew he would never love them, so they kept a distance, sparing themselves the grief of an ancient pain’. However he has only loved one woman in his entire life: Laurel.
Lauren is however not Lucy’s mother, Issy is. While Gerard was dating Laurel he cheated on her with Issy, the wild and sexy aspiring actress and she got pregnant with Lucy. Issy left Gerard and Lucy for a career in Hollywood she never got and eventually died, possible from suicide. ‘When Lucy was six months old Issy went back to Los Angeles of for filling her dream of being an actress’ Gerard is very thoughtful, reflective and philosophic. He thinks about life and is scared of becoming nothing, saying his breath and footsteps disappears like it’s nothing special. He wonders if his life is an extraordinary one’, ‘Am I like everyone else’. This proofs his awareness of being and could be interpretated to him thinking he’s not leaving any mark or impression on others, his ‘footsteps’ simply disappears. It seems like his life really is a bit boring and I think he might regret cheating on Laurel back then since he lights up as he sees her on his way home from work. It’s been eight years since they last saw each other; they talk and eventually have sex at her place.
There are the huge differences between the two love-interests in his life, Issy and Laurel. Issy is described as sexy, desirable, an amazing lover and probably a bit of a tease. She never took her heels off and sprayed her thighs with perfume. She lied a lot, contrary to her and Gerard’s daughter, who sees lying. And most of all she was ‘the other woman’ is his and Laurel’s relationship. Laurel is somewhat stable and seems to have her life under control. She’s 43, lives in a nicely decorated apartment and when they hook-up after all those years Gerard falls right back in love with her.
He’s so amazed he thinks that even her toes, something most people don’t find nice or good-looking, are perfect: ‘Her body is not as he remembers it. It is softer and somehow more pliable. Her toes seem perfect’. Their differences can be lined up as sex vs. feelings, desire vs. love etc. Another contrast revolves around the use of writing in presence and past time. Gerard has a lot of memories and anecdotes, which are told in past tense while everything happening (seeing Laurel again, kissing his daughter goodnight etc. ) is in presence.
Lucy seems to be the light of Gerard’s life: ‘He has never known such devotion’ and ‘Gerard feels stabbing love for his daughter’, but saying his love for her is stabbing could also indicate he loves her so much it’s hurting/consuming him. Lucy reads her father pretty well and he says she can ‘smell a lie a mile off’. After he meets up with Laurel and comes home Lucy asks if his ‘old friend’ is a woman and that she ‘just knows’. They have a good relationship. He buys her presents, he tucks her into sleep every night and they share ‘I love you’s.
He is quite honest around her, but keeps her from the story about Issy and her death, saying he’s going to tell her when she’s in high school or at least old enough to understand. This also proofs his strong fatherly love for her because he wants to protect her and make sure she has a good childhood. The mood starts off as melancholic and a bit depressing. It’s snowing on his way home from work and he keeps remembering special memories and they just pop up out of context, for example his physical education teacher back in England, who won a medal at the Olympics with Hitler watching.
He then mentions millions of kids who were about to be gassed, another contrast. At times Gerard is a little bit too quick to speak his mind before he thinks. At one time a rabbi was about to make a documentary about World War II and Gerard simply said ‘But there are so many already’. Rude, considering the fact that a rabbi is Jewish and it could be perceived as an insult or offensive. Although as Gerard re-thinks the episode as he walks up Fifth Avenue he realises how insensitive his comment was.
He then talks about mannequin and how they empty life is. The themes revolve around love and taking chances. The message in the story is, in my opinion, about seizing the day, or carpe diem. The turn point in the story is when Gerard decides to take the chance and talk to Laurel again. It could have gone wrong and she could have turned him down, he did after all cheat on her while they were together. Back then he also turned the situation he had with her around by taking a chance and messing with Issy and ruining his and Laurel’s relationship.
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